This morning, I was interviewed by the Weekend Morning Show on CBC Radio. They were interested in talking about why I put music to Tennyson's Ring Out, Wild Bells.
To listen to the interview, you can click here.
Our Mother, this planet, may be weary of the fissures we wrought upon her in our teenaged tantrum throwing. But she is not tilt-weary.
Our Mother may be churning by the externalizations of our psyches, our inner worlds now neck-deep in artificial light… the digital wasteland… dreams that are supposed to illuminate a silvering path, better seen in a woodland, in the dark.
She may be churning, but she holds the wooden spoon. And the truth of it is… we are unmoored in her cauldron. The holy Grail.
I do not foresee mayhem. Although mayhem there may be. I foresee an awakening … an organic bubbling of dreams, held in the womb openings of every person who dares to wax poetic, who will not walk bloodless, and with a bit of dirt under their fingernails.
I foresee sacred, intentional, slow, movement. Pilgrimage.
Seed protectors. Water protectors. Earth builders. Sequesters - roots of the plains. Tree lovers entwining their legs in a branched silence.
I do not see a king’s puritanical salvation… but a manger filled with matter… life… flesh and bones humility. Mary the inexhaustible fountain.
My spirit exalts.
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Today is a potent day in the liturgical calendar.... we light the shepherd's candle, and we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Something to note about both of these observances, is that mysterious appearances take place in the soil and flesh of reality. The veil is parted between this density, and the more dense, yet energetically free realm, through which the angels, and Our Lady might offer revelation.
The trouble with the parameters of our current paradigm is that any of us who don't want to live out literalism, often find ourselves building rigid walls around metaphor... which ought to always be allowed to be fluid and alive. To maintain control, we need to freeze metaphor, to colonize it. A half-assed attempt to be liberated from literalism. This is a deeply unfortunate binary.
I am nearly finished the early stages of composing a Folk Opera that I will be recording and filming for the year of 2022. The last piece that needs to be written, will either be a telling of the ancient story called The Lindworm... or I will be writing a lament that tells the story of the Bean Sidhe (Banshee)... whatever the case, the intention of the piece will be to explore how whatever we exile, whatever we banish, whatever we send into the cracks, does not disappear... it mutates in the shadows and comes back, often with a vengeful fury.
Remember: the Orc's ancestors were tortured Elves.
We have banished the magic mythic realm... have been cut off from our stories... and I believe wholeheartedly that not only is the ever-growing radicalization in part due to lack of access to education... but also because of education. When there is no room for real metaphor, for magic, for the mythic proportions we so desperately need, watch out. We think education is about eradicating superstition. But what if superstition and conspiracy are a direct result of the banishment of myth and metaphor? Of the actual, over the literal vs. the false.
What if nearly all mutation comes from the energy of eradication?
The angels revealed themselves via this realm we have banished. Our Lady revealed herself through this same channel. What revelations are we shutting out by banning this realm?
We still haven’t reached the stage of surrender or humility to recognize that science and the magic mythic realm are Lovers. Myth strokes the soft crevice below Rationality’s Adam’s apple… so we tighten the tie, button the top button, clear the throat, and avoid intimacy. Our Lady pulls out a guitar, and begins to serenade, crooning up to the balcony of possibility. So we self-righteously close the shutters with an arrogant chuckle. Anything but what is beyond our control.
A form of inerrancy keeps the key to this realm under its pillow, and to attempt to steal in, and take it, is to risk exile.
So… some will find a tool that doesn’t fit the lock, and jimmy it open. Groups will build battering rams. And the more they are ridiculed for wanting access to the realm, the more mutated the ways we open the realm become, and the more mutated what was exiled will be, when it crawls back out, seeking a place in the conversation.
When we shut off this channel in the hope of exiling radicalization, we are only deferring it, and simultaneously, we are shutting out the channel where miracles can travel between the realms.
Puritanism, no matter who is wielding it, never does the necessary integrative work needed for the shift we long for.
Poetry keeps us humble.
Dancing keeps us open.
Painting cracks the window... lets some fresh air in.
Singing opens the throat... undoes the top button (at least).
Paradox holds the key to dynamic peace.
Today, as we mark the 2nd Sunday of Advent, here is a song for today.
We invoke the perspective of the angel... the intelligent presence... whose visitation and Mary's receptivity to that frequency, changed the course of awareness of Christic presence in the world.
The lyrics are:
Her heart beat in time with my wings
Her heart beat in time with my wings
Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with you
This is from my brand new album Liturgy.
To get a download of Liturgy in the gift economy click here
To purchase a physical copy of Liturgy click here.
You can also stream on any platform of your choice.
To become a member of Alana's Patreon community, and access live concerts: click here.
Happy first day of Advent!
It is my great pleasure to announce the official release of "Liturgy" my 6th album since returning to my recording career in 2015!
The album sequence is:
1. Prophet's Candle
2. Hail Mary
3. Fear Not (Adamah of the Earth)
5. Ring Out, Wild Bells
6. When Love Meets Dust
7. Human One
9. Heart of Flesh
10. First Advent
I have created a free Album Journey, a series of videos, that walks through Liturgy.
To sign up for the Album Journey CLICK HERE.
to purchase a digital copy of Liturgy click here
to purchase a physical CD of Liturgy click here
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to stream on Spotify click here
to stream on Apple Music click here
Below are all the music videos I have made for songs that are on Liturgy.
Including a brand new lyric video for the chant Heart of Flesh.
Last night, our family had a meal with the ancestors. We poured a glass of wine, and set out a dish of my homemade pasta, and told stories about grandparents no longer with us. We spoke rudimentary words in our ancient tongues. Our 5-year-old set out a day of the dead colouring page he had finished. Our 7-year-old chose a prayer from our Earth Prayers book, and wrote out a remarkable prayer to share with the ancestors.
Our children wondered if the ancestors would come and eat and drink together while we slept. Lo and behold! like the cookies we leave for Santa, in the morning, the dish and the glass were empty.
Our children came running into our bedroom excitedly reporting, "our ancestors love us! they came and they ate!"
Today, we will be visiting the grave site of my McRae grandparents and bringing them a jack-o-lantern.
The great work of our time, is reckoning, and reaching back, to touch and heal the wounds we carry, and also give our ancestors the time, to learn from them. Yes. Even the ones born into puritanical Scotland, who outlawed Christmas. One such great, great, great, stood at the sea's edge with the salt water on her face, and remembered she was really always free. Even the ones whose taut, bitter mouths prayed the Hail Mary out of fear. One such great, great, great, held grains in her hand, like beads, trusting that the Christmas Eve blessing would bring an enchanted yield. Even the patriarchs. The colonials. The racists. They do not need statues to commemorate and honour their oppression... but for some of you, they are your ancestor... and like the cursed kings, Isildur's Army of the Dead, in Lord of the Rings, they need to be released. Integrated. So when we, all of us, walk through the mountain together, they have been laid to rest and will not haunt our living ways.
So many of our would-be ancestors are still ghosts.
Whatever we exile will come back with ferocious vengeance. Most days I wish saying "this is bullshit" would tie it all up in a neat bow. But I know now that I haven't even been given a ladle to stir all this into the compost pile from a distance... I have been asked to jump into it.
My grandmother taught me love. She passed on remarkable wisdom. She also had anxiety. When she was 17, her brothers were blown to bits during WWII. And across the escarpment, 25 miles away, she was unaware that indigenous people were being violently displaced to create this treasured National Park I live beside. But somewhere in there, the violence of that displacement, as quietly as a thief in the night, blew through her too. Because this is not a Newtonian universe.
And as I was born, blood from away, with ancestors buried here, and otherwise smattered across the world, Uncles' crosses on foreign soil... the Grandmother's reached across the big water, hoping I would awaken from this modern trap.
I once met a young boy on the land that raised me. He was a vision. And he led me to an arrowhead, and disappeared.
Then, like when Madeleine L'Engle began to doubt she could float down the stairs, I began to doubt the vision. But I remembered that my dog saw him too, and so I held on.
My new album Liturgy is a small attempt to show a little bit of what is alive in the Christian tradition. What was always true about it. It is also a way for me to engage... to reckon with, to not run away from, my heritage.
I mentioned this week that sometimes it feels like when I release this music, that I am releasing it into the world of stone that Digory and Polly first visited. That except for immature, often petulant claims, that "this is alive!", this tradition has in many ways become a mere relic of moss-covered gothic claptrap. And... the more it must reckon and stand in the heat of its colonial history, the more will walk away from the required post of humility and tenderness. The post is required, because if some of us do not bear the lineage, important incarnate revelations will be diverted, and no one will be left to stand accused for historic wrongs.
You exile the bad, you exile the good. And I have realized that I cannot spend my life extricating myself.
At least for me, the way is through!
Then... I remember that Aslan sings the song of creation "after" we encounter this world of stone. And I check in with my own heart of stone, and let it become flesh again... knowing that however this music echoes into a stone chamber, a relic, it at least has the longing to sing new life into creation. And Merton liked to say, "For God, a little bit of longing goes a long way."
And about the witch. Maybe Jadis is a trick. Maybe she represents what comes back with a ferocious vengeance when we spend all our time extricating and exiling. And maybe even Aslan needed to find a way for whatever was stuck in her, to be healed. Integrated.
So... here is an invitation...
I make this music to aid our dynamic alive Creator/Mother/Father in removing from our chest, our hearts of stone... to replace them with a heart of flesh.
Jump into the compost pile with me, and trust that what is alive, what is good, what is true, what is beautiful, what is wild, what is free, what exceeds our ideas of the phenomenal inside of this matter, is churning... is happening... and all the fragmentation we cause, can never separate us from the love(r) that will never stop binding us together.
As we approach All Hallow's, I am preparing to send out my new musical offering Liturgy, an album of songs that follow the liturgical year... but puts the spotlight on some of the figures who were nearly erased.
Mary Magdalene is given the voice at Easter.
Thecla tells her story at Pentecost.
And because I begin the album with Advent, this song, First Advent, is situated at the end, to mark All Hallows. So I made sure the Mother of God, was given her due place.
The chorus was pulled from the great Christological hymns "and God was pleased to dwell in him in all his fullness" - I have found it is a very fruitful practice to sing "pleased to dwell" in repetition.
Many thanks to Perdita Finn and Clark Strand, for their remarkable work with the rosary.
If you sing along with that line, "pleased to dwell", I'd love to hear what comes up for you.
Liturgy released for all Patreon members on Nov 1st, and then will release widely on Nov 28th.
In this podcast, I touch again, on how we are in a time of fragmentation and division.
But this time, I speak about how I am beginning to make peace with that.
Making peace with something in our culture is often read as resignation.
Perhaps all of this chaos, is the rumbling sound of wider reality metabolizing the trauma of modernity ... or the resonant thrum of transformation through embodied decay (which is how life happens).
Thomas Merton once said, "everyone wants the red sea to part, but the problem is that we have to be in over our heads before it does."
Merton also famously said, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going."
I think it's safe to say we are being invited to sit with having no idea. Not as a techno-fatalist act, but as an organic act of trust. In our own nature, and in the nature of the world, the universe, and in the nature of Love.
I just wrote a chant that you will hear when my album Liturgy comes out, and it paraphrases Ezekiel, "remove from us these hearts of stone, and give to us a heart of flesh". And built right into that prayer, is the acceptance of our participation in the organic nature of being and becoming... like... maybe the reason we position ourselves with hearts of stone, is because we're afraid if our hearts become flesh, they will decompose, and therefore "we" will dematerialize... in other words, from our Newtonian viewpoint, having a heart of flesh feels like annihilation.
So here are a few tender ponderings on shifting...
This is my first Sunday Song and Rumination since springtime, and it shares a bit about what has been coming up for me. The nature of this talk runs the risk of rejection, but my hope is that because I've let it steep for a long time, and at times in silence, (letting go, allowing, letting go, allowing, returning), that it will at least be received as sincere, hopeful, and maybe even some much-needed fresh air.
Not sure about that, but that is the hope.
If you feel reactive when you hear it, I would ask that you take some time to sit in silence too, so we're not merely feeding the frenzy. Our time on earth together is too precious and of the essence to waste any more of it, with frivolous, hurtful words.
This is not meant to diminish any person's experience in these times, but is an attempt to maybe examine our behaviours from a bit further back.
Alana Levandoski is a song and chant writer, recording artist and music producer, in the Christian tradition, who lives with her family on a regenerative farm on the Canadian prairies.